The Lafayette Commodores are the first high school football team in Mississippi to be knocked out of contention by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lafayette coach Michael Fair said he received confirmation that three players had tested positive just before the team was set to take the practice field shortly after lunch on Tuesday. He informed the team, which was already dressed for practice, shortly after receiving the call.
“We thought we had one of our best practices of the year coming off a tough loss (Monday),” Fair said. “We were really focused and I felt like they had handled the challenge well. But today before practice was a much different conversation, and a hard one.”
The Commodores were set to play Neshoba Central in the first round of the 5A playoffs Friday night in Philadelphia. Instead, they’ll finish the season with a 7-4 record and the Rockets (7-1) will advance to the second round.
“I think one of the positives to come out of all this is that it’s made us all a little tighter and closer as a team,” Fair said. “It’s fun to see a group of guys come together through all types of adversity and stay focused as a team and still be in every game despite all the distractions. I just hate it for the seniors — their high school careers were supposed to end on the football field.”
More than 25 teams across the state missed all or part of their regular seasons due to COVID-19, but the Commodores are the first to be eliminated from the playoffs, which are set to begin for the 1A, 5A and 6A classifications this Friday night.